Here we are with the first of the Windemere monsters. I think we’ll all recognize these creatures, which I call Oakind. They are also Ents or Treants, which are the sentient trees found throughout fantasy. Walking and talking as they travel the wilderness or stay in one place for a long nap. Now, what did I do different with the Oakind?
Not much on the surface. I couldn’t change a lot since they were supposed to be giant trees that could move if they felt like it. If they are standing still or sleeping then they resemble a forest. Oakind are always in groups, so you rarely run into a solitary one unless they escaped a massacre. Unlike Treebeard of LOTR (Beat you to it, people!), these monsters aren’t wise protectors of nature. They can be fairly territorial and simple-minded. For example, the ones that Sari and Kira Grason ran into in Ritual of the Lost Lamb were upset that they were taking herbs from their branches. They had a sense of property and didn’t want to give them up. This resulted in a strange ritual that they had to perform, which brings me to the big and only change I really did.
Sari and Kira are forced to fight each other after drinking a potion, which has them hemorrhage a sweet blood whenever they are struck. It’s to saturate the ground and give nourishment to the Oakind. Yeah, these walking trees can get food without this, but they crave the crimson serum of the living. It’s very much like a vampire and I never made the connection until I wrote War of Nytefall: Loyalty. In this, Clyde and his friends run into a strange grove of trees in the middle of a desert. Turns out, these are Oakind that have been turned into vampires, which had been unheard of. Even though they were destroyed, their seeds were spread and the desire for blood gradually became etched in the DNA of those found on Ralian. The Oakind of other continents don’t eat this, but they have other names since they are different tree types.
Really wish there was a big story behind their creation. I simply waited for a point where I could use sentient trees and then ran with it. My notes were funny though. I had marked down a ritual that involved fighting, but no reason why the Oakind would care. It was a final chance to get Sari and Kira to fight, which wasn’t enough. I had them take a potion on a whim and then . . . blech. No idea where I was going with it when I started, but that’s how it went. I’d actually forgotten about it when I had the Oakind return in my vampire series. Again, I had no notes beyond wanting a strange, big threat for Clyde to be faced with. Put the forest in the desert and considered having a beast hiding in there, but that didn’t work. Just had the trees start attacking when the moment was right. One could say the Dawn Fangs’ confusion at there being vampiric Oakind was genuine because I didn’t expect it either.